K-State student-made videos to be featured in National Science Foundation 360 News

Tony Williams, senior in physics and journalism, is emotional Wednesday morning in Dole Hall after receiving word that he won one of the Broadcast Education Association’s national “Best of” awards for his video explaining the maize mosaic virus. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Five student-made videos communicating the work of National Science Foundation-funded researchers at K-State to the general public will be featured in Science 360 News, a national online e-newsletter.

Tom Hallaq, assistant professor in journalism and mass communications, said he required his fall Audio and Video Production class to work on the videos, which focus on K-State research sponsored by the NSF. These videos will be featured in Science 360 News through the weeks of Feb. 19 to March 22.

Video topics ranged from Ebola to maize mosaic virus to monitoring sleep, and all were NSF-funded research projects completed at K-State.

According to Anthony Williams, senior in physics and mass communications, this was the first class NSF has ever partnered with in the making of these science communication videos. Williams said being part of the pilot program went well and everyone involved is excited to be published, though the program did put pressure on them.

“At times it was easy to forget this was a class project,” Williams said. “We were treated like a corporate industry and the scientists were our clients. It made it challenging to create these videos while we ourselves were still learning the production elements.”

Cameron Kietzman, senior in mass communications, said working on the projects was a very stimulating process.

“Filming our clients was new and exciting for both us and the scientists,” Kietzman said. “Most of us had never worked with scientists and most scientists had never been on camera.”

Some students involved with the project said that despite the excitement, they also faced some obstacles.

“The most challenging aspect for me was the fact that we were only given a 300-word abstract about the research to get our projects started,” Williams said. “I wanted to challenge myself, so I selected a topic I knew nothing about. I probably only understand 15 of the 300 words in the abstract.”

Williams said the difficulties only continued from there.

“Once I understood the topic, it was then important to figure out how much of this information should be given out,” Williams said. “You don’t want to be too shallow because then it is pointless, but you don’t want to say too much and lose engagement and understanding from the general public.”

Tana Akers, senior in mass communications, said it was hard to work with the scientists and to make arrangements for interviews and traveling, but it was also fulfilling for her and her classmates.

“It was very difficult visioning the final project and the end result,” Kietzman said. “It was difficult script work, but once we got through the script it was rewarding to see what we were working toward.”

Despite the challenges, Williams said this was a rewarding project for him and his class.

“This gets our content out nationally rather than our usual K-State community audience,” Williams said. “We will have thousands of scientists viewing our work.”

The videos have done more than get the students’ work published for their portfolios, Williams said.

“I used this video to get a job offer with BenchFly out of New York and an internship with NSF in Washington D.C.,” Williams said.

According to Hallaq, these students were also involved with the projects: Nathan Sage, senior in mass communications; Mark Vaca, senior in mass communications; Amy Pond, 2015 K-State alum; Cody Isern, junior in mass communications; Lindsay Rhoades, 2015 K-State alum; and Safiya Woodward, junior in mass communications.

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!